Number of people giving to charity has fallen by five million since 2019

The number of people donating to charities has dropped by almost five million in the past three years, research has found.

The proportion of people saying they had donated to charity or sponsored someone during the past year dropped from 65 per cent in the first four months of 2019 to 57 per cent in the same period of 2022, according to polling and analysis by the Charities Aid Foundation.

Neil Heslop, chief executive of CAF, said the news will make for “sombre reading” for charities.

CAF’s latest UK Giving Report, which was published today, found that donations and sponsorship have continued to fall below pre-pandemic levels, with charitable giving down for all age groups and in all regions of the country.

Total charitable giving in the UK fell from £11.3bn in 2020 to £10.7bn in 2021, CAF said, and in “every month of the year donation levels in 2021 were lower than their equivalent in 2019, suggesting a substantial and established trend”.

However, the crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created a “spike” in donations to charities helping people affected by the violence, with one in three people saying they had donated specifically to those causes.

Heslop said: “This report will be sombre reading for the charity sector.

“Despite the huge generosity shown by the public to support charities helping people in Ukraine, our research shows a very concerning trend of fewer people giving to charity overall.

“Despite the return of opportunities for fundraising events following a dampened couple of years, we have seen donation levels fall even further.

“Combined with rising living costs affecting donations to charities currently and in the months to come, this paints a worrying picture for the future of many charities who rely on mass giving.”

Sam Mercadante, policy and insight manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the data was “stark”, adding: “Charities are being squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis: more people are seeking support, donations are falling, and inflation is eroding the value of income.

“Although charities are vital to help communities through this crisis, fewer people feel able to give to causes important to them.”

CAF’s report is based on polling of 13,500 adults conducted by YouGov.

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